By David Johnson
March 18, 2007
When BioCrossroads was formed five years ago, part of our mission was to help Indiana develop life sciences job opportunities. After all, 10 percent of the state’s jobs are in this industry. And these jobs pay well. For example, annual earnings in medical manufacturing average $78,000; the medical devices industry averages $58,000.
In the last five years, Indiana has seen its life sciences industry commit more than $2 billion to new expansions and buildings.
Consider these recent developments: Last Fall, Eli Lilly and Co. dedicated the first phase of its $880 million biotechnology research lab and biotech pilot manufacturing plant. The new manufacturing facility will produce small-scale quantities of drugs for clinical trials.
In Terre Haute, Pfizer announced last year that it will create 450 new jobs through production of a new inhalable form of insulin to control diabetes. The company has kept its commitment to expand its Terre Haute facility. WellPoint Inc. will create 1,200 jobs in the next five years in Indianapolis and Beckman Coulter will bring up to 220 new jobs by moving operations to the Indianapolis area.
These companies are are investing because it makes sense from an economic and a work-force standpoint. Hoosiers are highly skilled in developing, making and manufacturing life sciences products.
And these companies aren’t just hiring Ph.D.s. There are opportunities for a range of positions, from machinists and assemblers in medical manufacturing to lab techs and researchers, pharmacy techs to registered nurses, all requiring a range of education.
With all this good news, however, we can’t ignore that the rigorous and ever-changing nature of life sciences opportunities requires an expanding supply of highly trained workers. To help support the new investments in the Terre Haute Pfizer facility, Ivy Tech-Terre Haute will invest $10 million to establish an advanced manufacturing center to train new and existing workers on equipment used to make new products. Ivy Tech-Central Indiana and many of Indiana’s leading life sciences employers developed the curriculum for an associate degree in biotechnology. The program helps meet the widespread need for entry-level production and lab workers.
BioCrossroads and many other partners have also formed the Indiana K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics network to deliver pertinent programs to teachers, schools, districts and students throughout the state. These programs and others will be vital for the continued growth of Indiana’s life sciences industry, estimated to bring 40,000 new positions in the next five years.
If Indiana is serious about long-term economic growth, investments in intellectual capital must match or exceed those in tax abatements, infrastructure and other traditional incentives. Indiana has the talent to fill the jobs of today, but will we have enough to fill jobs of tomorrow?